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The Digital Railway
Making a success of Britain’s Digital Railway Programme
In late 2016 Mark Carne, the Chief Executive of Network Rail and David Waboso, Managing Director of the GB Digital Railway Programme, met with representatives of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Railway Signal Engineers. Their request was that the engineering institutions engage with, support and communicate the importance of the Programme. 

In response, during 2017 the IRSE ran a series of workshops with industry representatives to discuss the key challenges facing the Programme.  This was done with the support of WSP, who facilitated and hosted the workshops.

The final output was an IRSE White Paper, published in December 2017, which explored the challenges and opportunities associated with implementing the Digital Railway Programme. It makes pertinent observations on the industry's readiness to deliver the Programme.
Click HERE to view the IRSE's White Paper "Making a Success of the Digital Railway".

IRSE White Paper Discussion Meeting

In January 2018 the IRSE held an evening event at which the conclusions and recommendations in the paper were debated.  A digest of the proceedings was produced:

Click HERE to view the report on the discussion.


More about the White Paper

The IRSE’s paper has been written at a time of major uncertainty and challenge for the railway industry in Great Britain. After years of unprecedented growth, there are signs of a slowdown. The industry is under greater scrutiny than ever about the justification for investment by the government, despite the pressing need for infrastructure enhancements.  The nascent automation of road transport must be considered a real threat to parts of the rail market.  Major investment in the railways during Control Period 5 has faltered, with programmes of electrification and signalling being curtailed and signal engineers being made redundant. 

It is within this context that the GB Digital Railway Programme is endeavouring to make progress in planning and implementing a range of digital applications.  These changes can transform an industry that is at risk of falling irretrievably behind its competitors.  The Programme is of critical importance for the railways’ future, moving us from yesterday’s technology to tomorrow’s in order to deliver a railway that is operationally fit for the 21st century, and playing a central role in the move towards “mobility as a service” as part of an integrated national transport capability.

The IRSE paper is structured into seven key themes, which emerged through the workshop discussions. They cover a range of industry issues relevant to the Digital Railway:

  • Aligning industry objectives
  • Targeted implementation
  • Confidence, collaboration and culture
  • Expertise to deliver
  • Contracting
  • Delivering efficiently
  • Technology options and optimisation